Nothing helps ease the pain of a crushing loss to an in-state rival like a delicious cupcake. In the first half, however, things looked like they were about to go from bad to worse for the program. The Kent State Golden Flashes struck first on a 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter by Dri Archer with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Luckily, the Wildcat offense found its rhythm, and the defensive play improved (although it still wasn't good by any stretch) to lead Kentucky to their first win of the season.
- After having a much-maligned career at UK and falling far short of fan (and expert) expectations, wide receiver Aaron Boyd finally seems to be coming into his own. The senior had 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also threw some nice blocks that made a huge difference on key plays for his teammates.
- Maxwell Smith once again showed why he is the best choice at quarterback for the Cats, going 30-39 for 354 yards and throwing four touchdown passes.
- Speaking of "throwing and catching," the recent pessimism around the program might have made some of us forget just how bad the receivers were at this point last season. Tonight, 10 different receivers caught passes. Smith's four touchdown passes were also all caught by different players.
- After struggling early in the game, running back Raymond Sanders broke off a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
- After a rough day against Louisville, linebacker Miles Simpson had a much better game, racking up seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
- The defense got its first points of the season on a safety when Kent running back Archer was tackled in his own end zone in the third quarter.
- The run defense looked awful in the first half. Archer may be incredibly fast, but he (and Trayion Durham) had some huge holes to run through.
- The defense gave up 384 total yards on the night. The Golden Flashes offense was also 8-of-15 on third-down conversions and averaged almost five yards per rushing play. While the defense's performance might have been good enough to hold Kent State to 14 points, that won't cut it when the Cats start playing other SEC teams.
- Craig McIntosh missed another field goal that was well within his normal range.
- Morgan Newton was brought in on a fourth-down play to run the Wildcat...he ended up with a four-yard loss. At some point, Phillips' has got to stop putting him in the game when a conversion is needed.
Which was a bigger factor in the Wildcats' win over Kent State?
- After catching his first career touchdown pass, Aaron Boyd threw up the three goggles (h/t Kentucky Sports Radio).
- Late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Maxwell Smith was relieved by freshman Jalen Whitlow. While it's understandable that Kentucky wouldn't want to burn Patrick Towles' redshirt on garbage time, it is a bit peculiar that Morgan Newton wouldn't be put into the game. It also helps fuel the conspiracy theory going around Big Blue Nation that charismatic redshirt freshman Bookie Cobbins (who has been moved to wide receiver after originally being a quarterback) isn't actually real.
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